The Chronological Gospel –

Miracles and Meanings

Mark 7:1-15, Matthew 15:12-15, Mark 7:18-22, Matthew 15:20, Are your hands clean?
Mark 7:24-25, Matthew 15:22b, Mark 7:26, Matthew 15:23-25, Mark 7:27-30, Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman
Mark 7:31-37, Matthew 15:30-31, Jesus heals in The Decapolis
Mark 8:1-8, Matthew 15:38, Feeding of the 4000 (The Decapolis)
Matthew 15:39-16:3, Mark 8:12, Pharisees ask for a sign (Galilee)
Mark 8:13-20, Matthew 16:11-12, Bread and yeast (on the Sea of Galilee)
Mark 8:22-26, A blind man healed (NE of the Sea of Galilee)
Mark 8:27-29, Matthew 16:17-20, Who do you say I am? (Caesarea Philippi)

More of The Chronological Gospel

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Women drawing water at the well. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Mark 7:1-15, Matthew 15:12-15, Mark 7:18-22, Matthew 15:20, Are your hands clean? (5/14/14)

One of the time-consuming and difficult tasks undertaken by mothers is teaching little children to wash their hands. “Are your hands clean?” we ask. “Did you use soap?” “Did you use water?” “Let me see them.” Sometimes we go so far as checking to see whether the hands, soap, sink, or towel are damp, or even – in extreme cases – sniffing the little hands to see if they still smell of Play Doh. We don’t want our kids to get sick because of dirty hands.

The Pharisees and scribes were every bit as concerned about clean hands as mothers are, but for a different reason. They didn’t actually care whether your hands were dirt-free, but rather they wanted to make sure your hands were ceremonially clean. They didn’t want you to get spiritually sick. A bunch of them came from Jerusalem to Galilee to find out what Jesus was teaching on this topic, and they were aghast at what they saw. Jesus told them in no uncertain terms that spiritual sickness is not caused by dirty hands. (Here's a brief discussion of clean vs. unclean.)

Mark 7:24-25, Matthew 15:22b, Mark 7:26, Matthew 15:23-25, Mark 7:27-30, Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman (5/15/14)

Although I do remind you that what Jesus said is more important than when or where he said it, I have been paying more attention in this chronological study to where Jesus was teaching. For someone who says that he was send to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” he seems to have spent quite a bit of time in Gentile areas. We saw before that he taught and healed in the Decapolis, or “Ten Cities,” across the Sea of Galilee, and now he’s going down to the coast, to the Gentile areas of Tyre and Sidon (A3 and B3 on the map).

Mark 7:31-37, Matthew 15:30-31, Jesus heals in The Decapolis (5/16/14)

Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve been noticing where Jesus is more than I usually do. Tyre and Sidon (“Zidon” on our map), are northwest of the Sea of Galilee, down on the coast. The Ten Towns, or Decapolis), are mostly to the east of the Sea of Galilee. Both are Gentile areas, which gives us new insight into vs. 31, “they gave glory to the God of Israel.” Even though they were Gentiles, they recognized Jesus as a Jewish prophet and miracle-worker, a representative of the God of Israel.


Mark 8:1-8, Matthew 15:38, Feeding of the 4000 (The Decapolis) (5/19/14)

How often have I said that we need to read several verses before and after the bit that we’re interested in? Maybe I should take my own advice. This great miracle, the feeding of 4000 men plus women and children* apparently took place in the largely Gentile area of the Decapolis, or Ten Towns. Mark 7:31 and Matthew 15:21 put Jesus in Tyre and Sidon immediately before this event, and Matthew 16:13 puts him in Caesarea Philippi shortly after. Presumably many people in the crowd were Jews who followed Jesus everywhere, but many others just about had to be Greeks. Jesus may have been sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but he served whoever happened to be around. We should, too.

* Not to be confused with another great miracle, the feeding of the 5000 men plus women and children.


Matthew 15:39-16:3, Mark 8:12, Pharisees ask for a sign (Galilee) (5/20/14)

Nobody seems to know for sure where Magada was located, although this does not keep people from having opinions. The location isn’t important. What is important is that – after seeing or at least hearing about the feeding of the 5000, the feeding of the 4000, and the healing of the demoniac boy – the Pharisees asked for a sign. My suspicion is that if Jesus had given them their “sign in the sky,” they would have said, “Wrong color.” My own prayer is, “Lord, please don’t give me a sign, because I will ignore it, misinterpret it, or hate it!” Occasionally I get a sign anyway, which normally leads to work.


Mark 8:13-20, Matthew 16:11-12, Bread and yeast (on the Sea of Galilee) (5/21/14)

The prophet Isaiah died a long time before Jesus was born, but Jesus knew what Isaiah had to say because he had read the book, and he quoted Isaiah 6:9 to his disciples. I’ve got a lot of sympathy for the disciples, who were clueless, like me. Yesterday my family and I were talking about language. I said that the primary purpose of language is to learn how to do something by listening to somebody who watched another guy do it. The primary purpose of reading is to learn from somebody who figured something out, possibly a long time ago. I am less clueless than I used to be because of the brilliant commentaries I’ve read by John Wesley, Charles R. Erdman, William Barclay, Zane Hodges, and many others. Try reading a commentary on your favorite book of the Bible.

Mark 8:22-26, A blind man healed (NE of the Sea of Galilee) (5/22/14)

Quite a long time ago I read an article in Scientific American about how people learn to see if they are cured years after being born blind. I was fascinated that the results were so similar to this account from Mark, in that at first they didn’t understand what their eyes were reporting. For example, if they were shown the tire of a car and asked to draw it, they would draw a wheel with spokes, because they had previously known about bicycle tires through the sense of touch. They often had to touch things before they could see them correctly; in this case it is Jesus who does the touching.


Mark 8:27-29, Matthew 16:17-20, Who do you say I am? (Caesarea Philippi) (5/23/14)

Caesarea Philippi is in the far north of Palestine, about as far north as Tyre and Sidon, but east of the Jordan River. Possibly Dr. Daniel and I have the chronology out of order, because it would make more sense if this trip was a part of Jesus’ tour of the region of Tyre and Sidon that we read about last week, before he returned to the Sea of Galilee. (Remember that the Gospel writers weren’t necessarily concerned about reporting the exact chronological order of events.) Another possibility is that Jesus did a lot more walking around than we would be willing to do today!

Most translators translate the Greek of Matthew 16:19 incorrectly as will be prohibited/will be permitted. The International Standard Version has it right: Jesus is not saying that God will do whatever Peter wants, but rather that Peter will accurately report what God has already decided.


More of The Chronological Gospel

Birth Announcements and Early Lives of Jesus and John the Baptist
Early Ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist
Jesus’ Early Ministry
Jesus’ Galilean Ministry
Sabbath Controversies
The Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Plain
John the Baptist
Signs and Parables
Miracles and Mission Trips
Bread of Life
Miracles and Meanings
Transfiguration and Teachings
To Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles
Some Results of Luke’s Research
Light
More of Luke’s Research
On the Road Again
The Raising of Lazarus
Holy Week: Palm Sunday and Monday
Holy Week: Tuesday, Parables and Questions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 1, Discussions
Holy Week: Wednesday Part 2, Be Ready!
Holy Week: Thursday Part 1, Jesus' Celebration of the Passover
Holy Week: Thursday Part 2, Jesus' Farewell Discourse
Holy Week: Friday Part 1, Jesus' Arrest and Two Informal Trials
Holy Week: Friday Part 2, More Trials
Holy Week: Friday, Part 3, and Saturday, Jesus' Death and Burial
The Empty Tomb
Final Appearances of Jesus Prior to Pentecost

Copyright 2014 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. Scripture readings are from the Weymouth New Testament (1912); caps indicate quotations from the Old Testament. "Drawing Water" is from the Binns Family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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